One of the largest earthmoving challenges in Australian history has started, with the commencement of major earthworks on the $5.3 billion Western Sydney Airport site.
Construction on Western Sydney Airport has moved ahead after Lendlease engineering and joint venture partner CPB Contractors were awarded the $644 million major earthworks contract.
The Australian government is also investing $5.3 billion in equity to deliver the airport through the government-owned company, “Western Sydney Airport”.
Western Sydney Airport executive general manager Jim Tragotsalos said major earthworks will see around 25 million cubic metres of earth moved to make way for construction of the new international terminal, runway, roads and rail.
“This is an exciting day not just for Western Sydney, but for the nation, as this transformational project marks its biggest milestone yet,” Tragotsalos said.
Since stage one of construction commenced in 2018, around a million worker hours have been clocked up on the site, with 1.8 million cubic metres of earth already moved.
Initial earthworks also involved realigning 1.6 kilometres of Badgerys Creek Road, which will become one of the gateways to the airport when it opens in 2026.
Tragotsalos said that for Western Sydney International, officially named after one of Australia’s great aviation pioneers, Nancy-Bird Walton, initial earthworks were “only the beginning”—covering a mere 6 per cent of the 1,780-hectare site.
“Major earthworks will see us moving up to 1 million cubic metres of earth a month, working across 67 per cent of the site, which is the entire footprint of the first stage of the Airport,” Tragotsalos said.
Works on the site—located around 44 kilometres west of the Sydney CBD—will involve hundreds of workers and more than 200 scrapers, excavators, graders, dump trucks and dozers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the commencement of major earthworks marked a “monumental” milestone, signalling the project was on track to begin operations in 2026.
“The scale of the earthworks equate to over 10,000 Olympic swimming pools worth of earth being moved over the site with 12 storeys difference in height from top to bottom,” Morrison said.
Member for Lindsay Melissa McIntosh added that by 2026, more than 28,000 direct and indirect jobs would be created by the airport.
“The technical challenge ahead with the scale of earthworks will be a great learning opportunity for workers and apprentices in Western Sydney,” McIntosh said.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said construction of the once-in-a-lifetime infrastructure project would transform Western Sydney.
“The airport and the surrounding aerotropolis will multiply job and economic benefits by attracting business and industry to the region,” Cormann said.
Market soundings have also commenced for contracts including construction of the terminal precinct, runways and internal roads.